CHANGING THE ARCHITECTURE
One of the first things they did was look at how to simplify the information architecture. From analysing user data it became quite clear that once a user gets to a certain point in their journey, they stop using the navigation and instead navigate through content.
The old site had multiple levels of depth, and subsections would often had bespoke navigation that was out-of-date, cluttered and poorly used.
So what they did was basically strip the navigation down to two levels: primary and secondary, and also changed some of the groupings used to categorise content. This allows users to quickly find their way to the main topics they’re interested in.
From the beginning the project was wireframed in HTML, which has a number of benefits. For example, you can immediately see how an idea will work in a browser and iterate from there. These wireframes are also easy to present and share. Instead of explaining the interaction, all the people engaged in the project could see it live on the page.
Each of the breaking points was designed in accordance to the rest to get the best results when the resolution changes. All the content was placed on pages according to it’s value and place in the hierarchy, rather than it’s size.
The Guardian research team decided to thoroughly check the users’ motives for opening the website.
There are three major ones:
“Update” is the most frequent motive and describes the journey of readers who visit the Guardian – often many times a day – to find out about the news-agenda in general, or about news from their area of interest, whether it is sports, culture, the economy, etc..
“Extend” describes the motivation to then gain a deeper understanding of a specific story, which usually demands more time than a quick news update.
“Discover”, is rather a whole group of motives, such as the wish to find inspiration and surprise, new perspectives, interesting debates with other readers or entertainment.
These research insights helped build the new website based on the readers’ typical journeys and needs.
They are built with what’s called “containers”, which are sets of builiding blocks. They “contain” words, pictures, videos, graphics and data. Editors can group them together flexibly, creating modular homepages and article pages to create a representation of what is important each day.